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The Southern Bell
The Southern Bell

Interview with South's Principal Mr. Swinson

Meet South's Principal Mr. Swinson

83 Views | Published December 21, 2023 | Edited January 3, 2024

Tags: #interview #principal #swinson #interviews


Madeleine Fryling and Dash Alschuler-Peirce

The Southern Bell - Writer
(Madeleine Fryling and Dash Alschuler-Peirce) —

Senior editors of The Southern Bell, Madeleine Fryling and Dash Alschuler-Peirce, sat down with new South principal, Mr. Swinson, to discuss his past experiences, educational philosophies, and his plans for the upcoming years. 

Dash: What is on your main agenda for the coming years? 
Mr. Swinson: It is always best that a new principal wait to hear from students, their parents/guardians, teachers, and other school stakeholders before deciding what will be on the agenda for this year and future years. There are a few initiatives that the District is currently undertaking, and my job will be to become familiar with these new initiatives so the needed work can be implemented in a way that compliments the work that teachers are already doing.     

Maddy: One special aspect of the South community is our diversity. How will you in the coming 
years emphasize and facilitate this diversity? 
Mr. Swinson: Diversity should be seen as a strength and an asset.  If it is not leveraged appropriately, learning opportunities can be wasted.  Our diversity allows us to learn from and support each other as well as offers us creative opportunities to solve complex issues.  As Principal, it will be one of many tasks that I have to inform, and educate students and the community about what the benefits of diversity. 

Dash: What catalyzed your interest in Valley Stream South? 
Mr. Swinson: I was very much attracted to Valley Stream because it reminds me of Bay Shore, the community in which I grew up, 28 exits to the east off of Southern State Parkway.  In addition, my connections to the community shared with me how wonderful the students, families, and teaching staff are in Valley Stream South HS.  All of this sparked my interest to follow up and apply for the vacant high school principal position.   

Maddy: What is your personal philosophy on teaching and how does that affect your view of the role 
of principal and administration within a school? 
Mr. Swinson: My philosophy of education is a basic principal that stems from building relations with students and their families.  The best way to appeal to anyone, especially a student is to demonstrate that you are an authentic, curious, and an interested adult in their life that cares about their development and well-being. Students won't care what you know until they know that you care.  Additionally, all students thrive to be seen, heard, and celebrated and the key is to constantly make sure South students are being showcased for their accomplishments. 

Dash: Having worked in another school district on Long Island, how does Valley Stream South 
differ from your past experiences? 
Mr.Swinson: Without question, Valley Stream uses more data and research to impact teaching and learning.  Their are many teachers that sit on various committees that assist in guiding the work that is taking place related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  I have never worked at a school where this type of meaning work is taking place.  I have also never worked in a district where the School Superintendent and BOE have shared such a committment in making sure teachers and administrators get what they need in order to carry out the diversity, equity, and inclusion work.  While the initial work could seem new, daunting, and challenging, it's work that will positively impact teaching and learning, and ultimemately good for all students.   

Maddy: How do you hope to counteract the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the quality 
of education and assist the transition back into the typical learning style? 
Mr. Swinson: There's no doubt that tremendous instructional time and learning loss took place as a result of the pandemic.  We have to get students back into a pre-pandemic rhythm and remind them of all the fun that takes place inside of our school.  We have close to 30 clubs and activities.  There is a club or activity for everone and if not, a sport.  At the same time, we are very familiar with the trauma that students have faced as a result of Covid as they may have lost a loved one.  It's quite possible these students could still be hurting and so it will be important to constantly check in with these students and their families to make sure they have what they need to be successful and affirmed in school.  

A special thank you to Mr. Swinson for taking time out of his day to partake in this interview, 
and the Southern Bell wishes him luck in the upcoming school year!

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